Friday, November 12, 2010

11/12/2010 Countries

These "country" projects the boys have really got me thinking. At the same time that I think they impose too much work on parents, I wish I could do the projects to the fullest with them. And there will be more to come, especially when Katrina gets to school, and I must think now about shaping my life and career (or not) toward that. I only get 10 more years of Gabriel (the last 6 of which he won't want anything to do with me), so now is the time to do these things with them. I'm not going to quit work tomorrow, but especially considering the extraordinary situation at work, I've got to start opening my mind to serious, and perhaps not-so-serious, changes.

I just realized that our two next-door neighbors are from each of the boys' countries of study (China and Canada).

My sister and her family are moving tomorrow -- I'm thinking about you all! Hope it goes well. It's hard, but you WILL survive an exhausting day!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

11/11/2010 Late morning

I had a doctor's appointment this morning, which meant that after dropping kids off this morning, I went back home and took a nap before the 9:45 appointment.

What a difference in my day! My mind was free and open, my old energy restored. I was concentrated and productive at work instead of dragging through every moment. I went running at lunch and joyfully powered through it. And all it took is that half hour I'm always so desperate for.

Ironically, I've also just reasoned that one small improvement in our day-to-day lives would be if I could shift my schedule even earlier. If I could get to work at 7am and leave at 4pm, extra time at home after school with the kids would be so good for them, and me. I don't spend any good time with them in the morning anyway; morning time would be better spent at work in favor of afternoon time.

Except for the part about getting up at 6:30 to be at work at 7, it's a brilliant plan.

Turns out Gabriel already signed up for a country for his "Country Studies" report -- and not one known for its cuisine: Canada?!

Gotta go -- new episode of Burn Notice tonight!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

11/10/2010 Country Studies

Once again, got home and got right to work on Julian's report on China. I can't believe how much work this is, and this with a really cooperative kid (if slow).

So I was dismayed to see that Gabriel has another book report due now too. Two, sort of. One is a "3rd grade passport," a book he has to fill out with information about his family origins. The other is a "Country Study Book Report," in which he had to write a fair amount about the country of his choice.

In addition to the regular report writing on his country, part of the project is to do one of the following: Make a clothespin doll, make a shoebox diorama, write a summary of a traditional story, learn a cultural song and perform it, or find a recipe to make. This would be an additional nightmare, except that the checked selection is the recipe option! I can't tell if Gabriel chose it or if his teacher did. Thank goodness -- I'd much rather make a recipe together than decorate a clothespin doll! Now I just need to steer him toward a country with a cuisine I have a prayer of making.

Today I'm just bedraggled instead of drop-dead steamroller exhausted. But between how tired I've been and how much work the boys' projects have been (and will be), the smidgling energy I put into hockey classes and T-ball is a far-away distant wondrous memory.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

11/9/2010 Draggin' ragged

I don't know what's with me -- I am so unbearably exhausted all day and all night long, every weekday. I make it through work, sort of, then when I get home, there is nothing I want to do more than lie down and sleep for hours. It's like every blink of my eyes is a mini-nap.

But of course, when I get home, I'm ON, and the work really starts. I'd thought about going out with Mom friends tonight, but was so so tired again all day that I hadn't yet mustered up the mental energy for it, then it turned out Dave was going out for dinner anyway. So when I got home with all 3 kids, without even changing my clothes or doing anything else, I launched right into homework and project mode.

Julian has a big project due at the end of the month: a "book" about a country and culture. Ironically, he picked China. So tonight we worked on one of the minimum 6 pages he has to do, this one about animals in China.

I actually really like working on this sort of thing with him, he's very focused and knows exactly what he wants to do (mostly), and I don't have to push him. But logistically and organizationally, a 6-year-old can't pick a few animals from China, come up with a simple sentence about each one, or print or draw the animal himself, he needs guidance. This is a lot of time and work for the parents, especially working parents with 2 other children.

I go back and forth between feeling resentful at my life for making otherwise fun time with my child an exhausting burden, and resentful at the school for placing this level of work on us. Walking in the door already so strung out and tired, my patience is short, my creativity stunted, and my ability to enjoy my bright little boy's energy is limited.

Not to mention having to evict his chatty little sister from the room so we can work together. And not to mention getting dinner started, which tonight didn't happen until after 6:30 because of working on one small part of Julian's project.

But though I was frustrated with having to (and wanting to) work on Julian's project, and missing out on coffee with my Mom friends, and feeling completely depleted, a funny thing happened at dinner. Katrina was unusually calm, and I actually got to talk with the boys, and even with her to some extent. We had a rare nice dinner all talking together, without anyone make gross noises, or booming goofy sounds together that are very cute by themselves, but shut down all other conversation, or making rude obnoxious demands, or even fighting.

One thing I absolutely LOVE about our amazing camping and ski trips this year is that we've spent more time talking about reminiscing about them than we did actually on them! This is always a popular topic.

Is this how "regular" families usually work? Is this what people strive for with the "family dinner" ? Enjoyable, together time, exchanging, laughing, remembering, joking, anticipating future experiences together? For us, the family dinner is usually little more than an exercise in auditory overload and grit-your-teeth endurance.

Now the kids are in bed, and I have a few moments of peace before I kick into cleanup/lunch-making gear. Then I'd like nothing more than to collapse and sleep for the next 14 hours.


Monday, November 08, 2010

11/8/2010 Shoe repair

Can't believe it -- no spare shoes for the boys. Don't I know by now not to get caught with my pants down ? (or so to speak). Julian's shoe is intact, sort of, but the velcro has failed so badly it won't stay latched closed and keeps falling off. So instead of blogging about how drop-dead exhausted I am again today, I'm sewing velcro onto a shoe.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

11/7/2010 Rain Walk

I had all sorts of ambitions for today, but they interfered with my #1 top priority: sleep. I wanted to sleep late and wake up when I was ready, and detox my strung-out body from being completely exhausted and running on empty all the time. The time change supported this endeavor, and I rolled my lazy rear end out of bed around 10am (old 11am).

I did manage to go to the Y and then grocery-shopping, but my ideas of getting the kids out of the house by bringing them to the Y with me ran into the realities of time and the ChildWatch closing at 12:30. So I went by myself.

Then at Trader Joe's, I ran into a Mom I know from school, who also has 3 kids and whose oldest was in Gabriel's 1st-grade class and whose 2nd was in Julian's kindergarten class. This year we have no common teachers, but we run into each other a lot and always enjoy catching up. She's about to start a full-time job, and was already feeling very pressed with keeping up with her 3 kids' lives, and I never have anything very encouraging to say about adding full-time work into the mix.

However, our conversation fueled my growing fire to change our after-school child-care from CDC to a nanny, at least for some days. This is something I'm seriously considering for next year, when all 3 are it the same school. Right now, it'd add yet more to an already hefty child-care expense.

But maybe we need to do it sooner anyway. Julian keeps asking about Tae Kwon Do, and the truth is, the absolute last thing I want to do on Saturday mornings after a long week of work is to have to be anywhere at a particular time. That is a weekday after-school thing. I hate the idea of a nanny taking them there instead of me, but the alternative is not at all, which is what's happening now.

Also, Gabriel and his blues piano playing really gets me thinking. I'm not sure he'll take well to lessons yet; he's not exactly Mr. I Must Do What Teachers Say -- but we can't give up on some musical outlet for him. Music is just so woven through his fabric; his brain is so hard-wired to it, I hate to deprive him of the opportunity to develop that now.

So, no grand outing today, but I did come up with the all-time lamest way to get them all out of the house: we did a rain-walk to Starbucks to get them all a treat drink.

This was fun actually!! Julian and Katrina got hot chocolate, and Gabriel got what I would have gotten: a vanilla milk.

But you know, boredom on a rainy day with a lame lazy exhausted Mom isn't necessarily a bad thing for kids. They have to dig deep and find things to do, and they did.

They all three spent at least half an hour huddled around this book, one that is a huge favorite around here. I'm pretty sure it technically belongs to Julian (a gift from Bonne Maman and Papa Paul, who never fail to hit it it out of the park with books), but they all love it. Gabriel spent a fair amount of time reading it to Uncle Ryan last weekend in fact!

Julian considers himself to be the science expert around here, but with funny, nicely written, humorously illustrated, attractive books like this that are packed with facts and make science interesting for kids, they're truly great for everyone. (Sorry for the ad copy but I really do like these books.)

I had been tempted to rent a movie for this rainy day, but the need never really arose. Perhaps my lameness wasn't such a liability after all!